Former APWU President Burrus comes out against tentative postal contract


The current leadership of the American Postal Workers Union is rushing to crank up support for a tentative contract announced last week with the U.S. Postal Service. But one member of the nation’s largest postal union has already made up his mind.

“I have been honored to have the opportunity to devote over 50 years of my professional life to improving conditions for postal employees and as a full dues-paying member and on behalf of future employees I would vote no,” former APWU President William Burrus wrote in an open letter posted on the web site,

Burrus’ opposition centers around provisions that—by his calculations–would cost future USPS employees more than $8,000 per year each. Saying that she had not seen the letter, APWU spokeswoman Sally Davidow declined comment Monday both on its substance and on whether Burrus’ opposition could make it harder to persuade the APWU rank-and-file to ratify the new deal. In a brief phone interview, Burrus confirmed the letter’s authenticity, but declined further comment.

Announced March 14, the proposed 4-1/2 year contract has already gotten the unanimous blessings of the APWU’s national executive board and its rank-and-file bargaining advisory committee, according to the union’s web site. The actual ratification vote will be scheduled once the agreement is printed, Davidow said, and should come within the next two months.

Burrus, who retired late last year after nine years as the union’s president, has never been shy in the self-expression department. (He famously once referred to large mailers as “vermin.”) How much weight his opposition to the proposed contract will now carry with APWU members is unclear, but it certainly doesn’t make life any easier for his successor, Cliff Guffey.

It’s also typical of the tensions that flare when unions accept two-tier arrangements that favor the interests of existing members over those of future hires. In the case of the new Postal Service contract, for example, layoff protections would apply only to employees on the job as of Nov. 20 of last year, according to a summary released by the APWU. The tentative agreement would also mean lower starting salaries for new workers and keep them from earning the maximum now enjoyed by current employees, the summary indicates.

At the same time, the union did succeed in preserving across-the-board pay increases and cost-of-living adjustments, although there would be no COLA this year and the 2012 adjustment would be pushed back a year. Considering that the Postal Service lost a record $8.5 billion last year, that can be seen as no mean feat. Whether a majority of APWU members will see it that way, though, is probably anyone’s guess.


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  1. As the economy struggles through a slow recovery and mail volume decrease, we are faced with decisions in our personal and professional lives many have not experienced before. Many are in survival mode. As we adapt to work so must our bastions of labor protection. We must learn to bend without breaking. This tentative contracts is representative of the flexibility needed to survive the drought. I can accept this current contract with guarded reserve.

  2. Management everywhere is saying the USPS gave away the farm!! I have been a union member and officer for 30 years, I have seen negotiated contracts and arbtration contracts! I believe we always fair better with a negotiated contract, we have good jobs with good benifits and I think most of us know what we have and we are lucky to be keeping what we have! If you need examples look around this country right now! Support our current executive board and support the contract! Those who went before us taught us to do our jobs, when u retire that means you are leaving and putting your job in someone elses hands! Good job Cliff and the rest of the negotiating team! Happy to still have a job and a contract that protects it!

  3. If Burrus wanted to make a difference in this contract he should have stayed in office unitl the negotiations were over. He chose to retire before negotiations so he wouldn’t be involved in the process.

    He should just fade away into retirement and be quiet.

    I know Guffy and have some differences with some of his views. That being said I think this contract is fair consideriding the state of affairs in the Postal Service.

    I’m voting Yes and I think most other union members will vote Yes. I don’t see us gaining much by going to arbitration but I can see us losing lots.

  4. With the Postal Service crying poor month and the state of the nation it is good to get a contract with most benefits still in tact. Going into arbitration would be a toss up just as it is in the grievance process.

  5. We had a meeting of our area local on Sun the 20th and our president went over all of the highlights and answered questions about the major components of the contract. This is a great deal and our membership voted overwhelmingly to support it.

    As to the no layoff clause, we probably won’t see hiring for many years in the Postal Service and by the time we do we’ll probably be into the next contract or beyond.

    I don’t see why Burrus doesn’t support the contract, especially the part that allows the APWU to bid on jobs against private contractors to show we can do the job for less and keep the work for ourselves.


  6. As a union member, I understand the stance Mr. Burris has taken. But, as a employee for the Postal service I can see where things must change for the Postal service to remain viable. As with all industries, when the economy goes south, everyone must make sacrifices to ensure the continued employment and success of all. Overall, from what I have seen of the new contract, I believe that the union did a pretty good job and from the discussions in the break room so do most other employees in our facility.

  7. this is a freaking INSULT! 3.5% in 4 1/2 years period?
    you only making 55,000$ in 2015!
    Bart (bay area rapid transit) workers making 114,000$ a year!
    UPS drivers making 70,000$ a year!

  8. Just like sheep, the new contract will be accepted by the membership. I would like to see a 2-3 year contract.

  9. What sacrifices did upper management make? What sacrifices did Potter make before he retired? When did UPS employees start making more than comparable postal employees? Are we not suppose to be making life easier for future generations? I am happy this is not 1776!!!

  10. Some people might think that “There is a concerted effort across this country to reduce the power of unions from Wisconsin to Florida and in particular to eliminate the collective barganing rights of government employees. This contract must be viewed in light of these attacks. What would happen in each state were government employee collective barganing rights eliminated? Is the contract strong enough to nullify the attacks? Would an agreement between management and the union withstand assault better than an arbitrated agreement?” The answer is IT DOESN’T MAKE ONE BIT OF DIFFERENCE. Read the contract thoroughly when you get it. If Burrus has only the objection that it would cost 8,000 to future employees over the years…Then this is a good contract. If there are other worries about excessing, no layoff clauses eliminated, outsourcing, elimination of health care or something more substantial than simply the present negotiated salary…then maybe it’s not.

  11. John Efstathiou on

    VOTE NO! This will eliminate the 40 hour week FTR by replacing them with PSE Casuals and Non-Traditional Full-Time Regulars who will only be guaranteed 30 hours per week. Also this will expand the coffers of the national APWU by allowing all these new $13 an hour workers join the union and pay dues to replace the dues lost by the elimination of 100,000 bargaining unit jobs in the past tenyears. You will not find any more 40 hour residuals and you will either accept excessing or take a 25% pay cut when you are “forced” into the new NTFT jobs that only guarantee 30 hours per week. VOTE NO! This contract is a disgrace and so is our entire National Executive Board for trying to sell us out. VOTE NO! We will get a better deal at arbitration. At least the arbitrator has to follow precedent and comparisons with similar industries. The arbitrator will not sell us out like our National APWU is doing. Cliff Guffey you should be ashamed. I am ashamed to be a member of a union that would endorse such a plan that will ensure the erosion of 40 years of collective bargaining succeses under Moe Biller and William Burrus. If Moe were alive what do you think he would say to this new two-tiered workforce?
    Like I said, everybody must VOTE NO! Take Arbitration over betrayal anytime.

  12. VOTE NO!!!! I totally agree with John #12- this contract is a disgrace and erodes everything we have fought for. They are eliminating your guarantee of 40 hrs per week. Ask yourself if you can live on a “part time”job. In addition, the title of the newly created “PSE”(a glorified casual), increases the cap to 20%. The so called “raise” is 3.5%, but your health insurance goes up 4%. You are being sold down the river…. PLEASE VOTE NO- OUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. Don’t listen to the “hype”- study the facts

  13. thatpostalguy on

    this contract throws away all our bargaining chips what will be left? In the past we have fought for gains and usually have come out pretty good what’s wrong with these pansies vote no and show them this is garbage don’t be scarred tough it out that’s what we’ve done before

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